Datia Palace - A stunning testimony to friendship

23-Nov-2021

Blog :: Heritage

Place to visit in Datia, Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is gifted with breathtaking picturesque views, verdant surroundings and hidden amongst them are the majestic forts and palaces.


One of the crowning glories of Madhya Pradesh's architecture is the Datia Palace that takes a pride of place atop a low-lying hill in the town of Datia, just about an hour away from Gwalior. Also known as the Govind Mahal, Satkhanda Palace, Purana Mahal and Bir Singh Ji Deo Palace, this resplendent seven-storeyed palace is an excellent representation of Indo-Islamic (Mughal and Rajput to be precise) style of architecture. It's named after Bir Singh Deo (1605 to 1627), a powerful ruler of the kingdom of Orchha, who commissioned the construction of this magnificent mansion to welcome Mughal emperor Jahangir (Jehangir). 


The friendship between Bir Singh Deo and the emperor was steadfast from the time the latter was the young prince Salim. When the young prince Salim was in a power struggle with his father, the Mughal emperor Akbar, Bir Singh Deo had helped Salim ascend the throne and strengthen his reign.  


Their friendship was further solidified when Salim ascended the Mughal throne, he conferred the title of 'maharaja' (great king) on Bir Singh Deo. Bir Singh Deo laid the foundations of Datia Mahal in 1614.


The opulence of the palace is as grand as its history, tragic. It neither got to house the king who commissioned it nor the emperor for whom it was built. Historians believe that after the construction of the palace was complete, Deo Ji extended an invitation to the emperor, who politely declined. The palace was eventually lost to the vagaries of time.


The around 400-room palace still exudes the splendour with which it was built. Visitors can still make out the intricate details of the architectural designs that were immaculately planned and rendered with utmost precision. Paintings of horses and riders, noblemen of the royal court, Hindu deities and floral motifs that adorn the spandrels and recesses on the front-facing facade are testimony to the design and architectural prowess of the artisans of that time. The facade is decorated with intricate bracketed balconies. Four octagonal towers on each corner of the palace rise above the surrounding areas offering mesmeric views of the ramparts of the fort and the Karna Sagar Lake below.


Upon entering the palace, you will be in awe of the ornate and elegant designs. The palace interiors, painted in vegetable dyes and colours, and the ceilings embellished with exquisite patterns in the style of Persian carpets, will leave you spellbound. The palace complex also houses amazing artworks from the Bundela School. The floors have been constructed with just stones and bricks, without the use of wood, iron or cement, which is an evidence of the skills of the masons who toiled for nine years on this magnum opus.


The building, resembling the 'swastik' symbol, emphasises a classic symmetrical plan. It is said Sir Edward Lutyens, the architect of New Delhi, was so overwhelmed by Datia Mahal that he incorporated aspects of the palace in the interiors of New Delhi's North and South Blocks. With its picturesque location, the British couldn't resist hosting the Governor-General Lord Hastings in 1818, and in 1902, the palace hosted a grand darbar for then Indian Viceroy Lord Curzon.


How to Reach

You can visit the palace by taking the National Highway 44 from Gwalior which is 76.5 km away from Datia.


Reference Links:


https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/lutyens-loved-it/article3945529.ece

https://cdn.s3waas.gov.in/s38efb100a295c0c690931222ff4467bb8/uploads/2021/08/2021081889.pdf